This game had lots of conversation, introduction to several more Friendlies, preparation, build-up of tension and then a nail-biting and a somewhat terrifying climactic action scene at the end. Also, the menaces that the marines will face for this campaign are revealed. All in all, a perfect episodic game of I Love the Corps.
COLD FRONTIER, EPISODE/DAY 3
Played characters- Sergeant Grayjoy, Deputy Hayes, Private Fentington/Snow Plough
PCs as squad Friendlies- Private Ramirez
Prominent squad Friendlies- Yeti, Gerda Rundstrom (survivalist), Dr Mya Ross
Pre-credits scene (from the aftermath of Day 2)
Sheriff Bull and Ramirez are arguing in the bar; the sound is muted, and everything is slow motion (though definite swearing on both sides of the argument is clear.) The camera focusses on Snow Plough who says “BLINKY!” in slow motion has his attention goes to his helmet HUD, as he sees the cam-feeds for his three drones, and notices that though Blinky’s feed his black, he is still active. Snow Plough activates the flamethrower, lighting up the inside of the frozen van; the back of the van is still open, but there is a massive blockage of ice. We cut to above the ice, as a big gout of flame bursts out of it, shooting into the air.
Snow Plough’s face goes to a manic smile as out of the blue (from the perspective of the others in the bar) he goes “YESSS!” still in slow motion, as the camera cuts between his exhilaration, Bull slamming her hand on the bar, Ramirez swearing, and then Blinky’s cam-feed shows the drone as it rises out of the ice, and then the feed goes white… and then black, as something cracks the camera. Plough’s face goes from victory to despair. Time goes to normal speed, as Bull and Ramirez just look at Plough’s behaviour in utter confusion. Then Deputy Hayes radios the Sheriff and tells her he can see a large gout of flame, and something flying up into the air.
Bull- “These things fly AND breathe fire, too? Bring it down Deputy.”
Hayes fires the railgun, but misses as the object spirals through the air. Plough hears the sound of the weapon through Blinky’s still active audio feed. “Tell him to stop! That’s my drone!”
“Why didn’t you tell me you left a drone behind… cease fire!”
Unable to see where the drone is going, Snow Plough orders the drone to go to ground and hide.
Bull- “You people have even more to answer for.”
Opening credits roll.
The next scene begins in darkness. Arguments can be heard. Lots of people shouting at once.
The darkness disappears; events focus on the Meeting Hall of Frost. It looks like all of the settlers are present, either on chairs around the central table or standing behind those chairs or lining the walls.
The Icebreakers (Ramirez, Snow Plough and Yeti), including a scarred Sergeant Greyjoy on crutches, stand in a line with the airlock not far behind them. The anger of the crowd is directed at them. In front of the squad stands Deputy Hayes and Sheriff Bull, trying to keep the crowd back with words, body languages and necessary glances, and Dodd and Ryan who stand determinedly, staring silently and menacingly at any who get to close, hands on weapons, though they aren’t raised.
Mayor Winkleman calls for calm several times, but nobody listens. Geoffrey O’Hanlan, the Irish manager of the Food Warehouse is particularly vocal (as usual), accusing the marines of incompetence and not even trying to save the Foragers.
Greyjoy raises his considerable voice over the crowd, trying to assure them that Frost is safe, but they continue to shout at him, as the safety of Frost is clearly compromised, since they already left people to die. Greyjoy tries to assure them the people are still alive, but O’Hanlan points out that since they were left out overnight, the cold likely killed them. Greyjoy tries to tell them that the Foragers may be in the shelter of the mountain tunnels, but knowing there is something in those tunnels hardly makes the crowd feel any better, and the shouting gets louder and louder. Until Bull intercedes, striking her hands on the table, and adopting her old drill sergeant countenance, as she addresses the crowds exactly as she once addressed marines as the Bull-Dozer (indicated in a brief flashback) as the entire crowd goes silent.
Greyjoy uses the silence to explain that nobody will be going out onto the ice or into the mountains today, and his squad will go into the mountains to recover the Foragers who still have comms contact. Just O’Hanlan begins questioning this and noises starts up again, the Hall is silenced as the entire building shakes. The sound of engines can be heard.
“We weren’t expecting anybody till the next cruiser, were we?” Winkleman asks the Sheriff.
“No sir. And random visitors aren’t exactly common.” She looks to the Deputy and says “We better say hello.”
Greyjoy looks to Snow Plough and says “We’ll accompany you”, leaving the others to keep the Meeting Hall under control.
The police offers and two marines step out into the pitch black, as it is nine in the morning, and the sun has not yet risen. A shuttle, about double the size of a drop-ship, blazes its lights across the four. They stand with their back to the camera in a straight line, with the row of buildings on either side of them, in something of a frozen Western feel, as the shuttle lands. It is brightly painted with scenes of forests, deserts and plains on the sides.
The ramp descends to the ground, and from come five figures. Their physiques are hard to determine, as they all wear face-covering breather masks with brightly coloured, voluminous robes wrapped tightly about their persons against the bracing cold and turbans wrapped around their heads.
The lady who confidently strides ahead of the other four has a mask which shows her beautiful eyes with carefully elongated lashes, whilst the others have masks that obscure their facial features. Though her smile cannot be seen, there is a smile to her voice as a woman sweeps her arms across in a half-bow (something she does often) and introduces herself as Aressa of the Alkarbi, translator for the Master Trader, who does not speak any Galactic Basic (English.) She gestures at the Master Trader, who is the shortest of the five, and just staring at the marines, either with his hands behind his back or folded. The only words he speaks are whispered into the ears of Aressa. With them are three other companions, equally silent: there is a man with a bent posture who may be elderly and carries a heavy case, another woman who wraps her arms often around the Master Trader, and a man about 6’6 in height, who has no weapons (like all of them) but still seems greatly imposing without Yeti present to counter his height. In the ship behind them are five other individuals, arranging a large set of metallic cases.
Aressa speaks to the four protagonists in an elaborate and overly friendly manner, explaining that they have come to trade. Greyjoy seems to enjoy speaking to her and she seems particularly friendly with him. Snow Plough, being intensely socially awkward, sends his support drone to speak to her and orders Jeeves what to say. She titters at it, and immediately asks if it is for sale. This clearly makes Snow Plough uncomfortable, who immediately refuses the idea. Seeing that Plough is uncomfortable, Aressa proceeds to toy with him by being immensely flirtatious, despite his attempts to deflect her onto the Sergeant.
Clearly not having time for this with more pressing concerns, Bull urges the traders to go to Chang’s Import/Export Warehouse and see what they have to trade, though the Sheriff stresses that after six weeks without delivery, there may not be anything much to trade. Bull then speaks to Hayes and asks if he can keep an eye on the marines and make sure they don’t screw up again when they go to look for the Foragers, to which Hayes eagerly agrees, giving Greyjoy something of an angry look. Bull strides off to deal with other business, and Hayes, with the two marines in tow, guides the Alkarbi traders to Chang’s, as the five labourers carry out a large selection of metal containers from the ship and follow behind.
Greyjoy speaks with Aressa, and gives her a fake story about needing to go to the mountains to study glacial formations, saying that the helicopter is out of commission due to over-exposure to the cold. Aressa determines that Greyjoy is finding a round-about way to ask to borrow her ship, and he clarifies that her crew would fly it and simply transport them there. When Greyjoy asks what she would like in return, she immediately points at Jeeves the Support Drone, and Snow Plough instantly panics. “Tell her no, Sarge!” The Sergeant explains the drone is not for sale, and Aressa agrees that she would be happy with a replica. Plough continues to refuse the idea until heavily pressured by both the Sergeant and Deputy to do as asked, in order to make the deal, and eventually his will breaks. They then need supplies, to go to meet with Chang.
Chang is a man of Chinese descent, and tiny even by the standards you would expect from his genetics. And despite the freezing temperatures outside, he sits in a pristine pinstripe suit with a purple tie, with a somewhat inhuman grin on his face.
The Sergeant asks him for a series of items; ropes, flares and the like. Chang explains that on Frost, credits are only of use when off-worlders come, and that on Frost, goods and services are traded for their like. When asked what they have to trade, the Sergeant produces the piece of alien anatomy that was sticking out of his face the previous day. Chang takes it with curiosity, examines it with an eye-piece and determines that it is either a piece of tooth, claw or similar, the kind of thing Ross would find utterly fascinating.
Chang drives a very hard bargain indeed, but in the end, they convince him to make the trade, not for the value of it, but by how much it will wind up Ross for Chang to have a specimen that would only interest her. He grins at the idea; though he is convinced she doesn’t have much to trade for it, she is amused by how his possession of the item will likely drive her.
He then takes out a glass case which contains a variety of different shells and stones and places the new item among them. He laughs evilly; “she doesn’t even know I have these yet!” and the marines laugh to.
The Alkarbi are emptying their ship, and loading the rescue items Greyjoy and Hayes have acquired and the manual labourers are loading them onto the ship.
Aressa asks Greyjoy if he has any more marines, and he says that he does; she asks if he would bring more men, just so she feels safer, being unaware of the planets dangers, but assuming there must be some. Greyjoy complies, and radios Yeti and Ramirez to accompany them, Dodd remaining behind since she is an ex-marine and not obligated to accompany them.
Greyjoy and Hayes are the last two up the ramp, and Hayes stops, stares at the Sarge rather vehemently, and tells him he is here to make sure that the Sergeant doesn’t **** up again, and gives him a seething speech, challenging that he isn’t a man, leaving those people to die; Hayes makes it clear he doesn’t trust the Sarge and that he is present to make sure those people come back alive…
Whilst the others are seated in the crew compartment, the shuttle is big enough for a bridge area, which Greyjoy makes sure he is present on, speaking more with Aressa. He asks her why they still have masks on, and she is explains that they are warmly attired, and it would be safer to keep energy focussed on the ship’s engines rather than heating, which is logic Greyjoy agrees with.
Hayes’ jeep, Maisy is also carried in the cargo area. Just as the sun is rising, the ship flies over the glacier and towards the mountain. Whilst Greyjoy and Hayes look for survivors, Plough continues to go on about Blinky and is looking for his recon drone instead.
Greyjoy spots the helicopter of the Foragers and orders the ship to fly towards it.
The ramp descends, and the large Alkarbi bodyguards swears… in clear English.
The camera cuts to metallic boots stamping down on the mountain peak. Next to the boot lies a long, hollow chitinous limb, pure white in colour, made more visible by the blue-green liquid pooled out of it onto the ground, as the boot crunches onto the limb. As the camera pans behind the marines, showing what they see; around the helicopter lies a scattering of chitinous limbs and severed pieces of other unidentifiable body parts. Organs covered in the blue-green liquid spill out onto the ground. And among the detritus of body parts is a clearly alien head, about the size of a horse’s head, clearly insect in shape. Like the rest of the body parts, it is pure white, with a single set of sharply hooked mandibles extending out several inches from the face, a pair of segmented eyes above and below the mandibles, a round hole of a mouth in between the mandibles, and small holes on the side of the head.
The blue-green liquid is splashed across the chassis and window of the helicopters. It drips off the propellers. Drip, drip, drip. The camera follows the splash. And then the helicopter doors swings open, and a weathered, thick, spiked mountain boot stomps into the pool of liquid.
Snow Plough says “Wow” as a tall woman wrapped tight in furs, with Nordic blonde hair braided into two tails behind her head steps out, with a large, white wolf-like dog running ahead of her. The wolf-huskie cross growls and barks.
“Down, Fenris!” orders Gurda Rundstrom. In the helicopter behind her, there is clearly a figure, wrapped in furs, curled up, with furs stretched across the visible floor of the helicopter.
Gurda explains that ‘they’ came out of nowhere, screeching so she couldn’t hear. A flashback shows her shooting darts at something off-camera, calling Fenris to run with her. She says she distracted ‘them’ and let them chase her, whilst Ross and the Foragers escaped into one of the tunnels. She ran to the helicopter with Fenris, and managed to get inside. She explains and a flashback shows how Anyu, the pilot (the one wrapped in furs) turned on the propellers, just as large white creature is shown crawling across the windscreen. “We were lucky there were only four”, Gurda explains.
Gurda explains that the copter was frozen and it was only with keeping together and using all the furs that she and Anyu survived the night; Greyjoy congratulates the both of them, and orders them both onto the ship with the traders who have come to help them. With Snow Plough watching on with his mouth open like he just discovered a warrior princess, Gurda carries Anyu in her arms onto the ship. Greyjoy asks Gurda is she has heard from the Foragers, and she says that she hasn’t since yesterday, though they were alive when they separated and Ross took them into the tunnels.
Greyjoy tells Aressa to take Gurda and Anyu back to Frost and then to return for them, but Aressa suggests that it is wiser to simply wait for them, which Greyjoy agrees with. Hayes then adds that if things do go south, they should **** off as quick as they can.
The camera cuts above the squad as Ramirez volunteers to take point, moving silently and ably head, easily skipping across rocks and over crevasses, with the battle drone, Crusher, hovering only 7 foot behind him. As the squad go searching for Dr Ross and her team, they pass many holes leading into the mountain, but they are tight enough that the team would have crawl into them, which the Sergeant wants to avoid.
Eventually Greyjoy spots a piece of woollen thread snagged onto a sharp rock. He picks up the thread and follows it into a deep hole where eventually it terminates. The tunnel is big enough to walk into with a stoop. Greyjoy indicates that the Foragers must be inside and Ramirez heads inside, with Greyjoy and Hayes close behind him. Snow Plough sends Crusher in with them but asks to stay outside, and Yeti opts to look after Snow Plough, since he is so big he would have to crawl down the tunnel. Snow Plough finds a large boulder and gets Jeeves to use his lifting arms to roll the boulder into position so it can be used to block the tunnel mouth when the others exit. Yeti draws his sword and keeps his eyes out across the valley for enemies.
Ramirez makes his way down the tunnel and gets to the point where light terminates. He radios the Sarge, asking whether he has clearance to turn on his helmet torch; Greyjoy tells him to fire a flare. A blue glowing flare streaks down the tunnel into it slams into a wall at an intersection of three tunnels and then drops the floor, bathing the intersection in its glow. The comms then crackle with Ross’s voice, as Greyjoy confirms the light is from them, and tells them to come towards it. The marines can hear the excited and frightened voices of the other Foragers as Ross tell them the marines have come to rescue them. Then they hear rapid noises, hammering against the stone. Sergeant screams down the comms for them to run. He readies on his machine pistols, and Hayes does the same, whilst Ramirez pounds his way down towards the intersection, seeing Ross and the Foragers come running into view from the left tunnel, whilst from the central tunnel comes something else; its central mass (bathed in blue light) fills most of the tunnel, as multiple legs dig into the walls on either side, propelling it along rapidly. Ross is just in front of the Foragers as Ramirez yells “Down!” Ross ducks as the creatures snaps it’s twin pairs of mandibles at her. Greyjoy and Hayes snap off a flurry of shots, and Crusher rattles of it’s own with the minigun, but the shots pound off the creature without any undo harm. Ramirez runs at Ross, grabbing her round the shoulders and screams “Down!” as the two duck under more snaps of the mandibles, the Foragers caught behind them.
The Sarge grabs a flash grenade with his free hand and tosses it at the creature, warning the others to close their eyes as the bright flash is emitted; Ross and Sergei do as ordered in time. The creature rears up, moving his legs up the wall, looking about to bring down it’s crushing weight upon the two, as Hayes blasts the underside of the creature and knocks it off-balance, sending it bouncing down the tunnel and out of sight. Ramirez, an arm still round Ross’s shoulder, hauls her ahead to Hayes and Greyjoy, whilst the Foragers run into the intersection, and Plough recalls Crusher, seeing that things seem to be to be in hand.
And then there are the sounds of a lot more limbs smashing against stone tunnels; coming from the central and right tunnels come more of the alien insects. Four of them collide with the Foragers and knock them to the ground. To the Forager’s credit, as the insects bite down at them, catching their mandibles on clothing and equipment, the Foragers kick and punch out at them. As the four insects squat down, flattening their bodies, four more come across the ceiling, over their fellows and right at Ross and Ramirez. This creatures are about the rough length and height of the first, but sleeker, faster and with only a single set of mandibles, which are not as long or sharp, but equally serrated. The edges of their shells are also sharp and serrated.
Ramirez yells “Their like big ****ing ants! Razor sharp ****ing ants!”
“Kill ’em all! KILL E’M ‘ALL!” the Sarge screams and, with second machine pistol drawn, wildly opens fire. His shots miss the monsters and rattle harmlessly off Ramirez’s order instead. And a spray hits Ross in the chest and she is knocked into the wall. But she appears to have armour under her fur, and she does little more than swear.
“Watch your fire!” Ramirez screams at the Sarge.
Snow Plough, having called Crusher back, and now unable to open fire with its minigun panics and yells “Yeti!” get in here, and then draws his assault rifle, snapping off singular shots, but not able to hit a thing. Hayes, who kept his distance at this point, strides forwards as he sees the Foragers endanger, bravely but futilely firing as his shots ping off their shells. He calls to the Sergeant that they need to get to the Foragers, as they continue to fight off the other insects. Yeti comes determinedly crawling down the tunnel towards the creatures, but it still behind the other marines, as the Foragers get dragged off out of sight… literally dragged off kicking and screaming.
Ramirez grabs Ross and hurls her forward out of danger, as she then does her best to run towards the tunnel mouth after pushing past yesterday. “Sarge, get these ****ING RAZOR ANTS OFF ME!” Ramirez yells. Hayes meanwhile is yelling to the Sergeant; “We need to save them! I’M NOT LETTING YOU **** UP AGAIN!” and the two of them have a massive shouting match, whilst failing to scratch their enemy as they continue to fire. Snow Plough flattens against the wall and manages to snap off a few shots that score off the Ants, but nothing that penetrates their hides. Ramirez powers forward out of the way of the mandibles, as Yeti pushes his massive body into combat with them. He slashes his sword at them, but the sword gets caught in a pair of mandibles, allowing the others to slash and bite at the unarmoured giant HighGrav/IceWorlder before he can tear the sword free. Despite four horse-sized insects biting him, Yeti is hardly slowed down however. After a few bites to wake him up, he manages to fend off the other attacks.
“Sarge; am I pushing through them or are we heading out?” Yeti calls.
“There’s too many we need to pull out!”
“YOU AIN’T LETTIN’ ‘EM GO! I AIN’T LETTIN’ YOU SCREW UP AGAIN!” Hayes screams as Greyjoy grabs him and hauls the man over his shoulder as he shouts defiance in the Sergeant’s face. Even as Greyjoy turns his back on the creatures, Hayes fires wildy, shots hitting the ceiling, as dusts and rocks begin to fall.
Yeti, still locked in combat with the four razor ants calls back. “Watch your shots, you’re going to collapse the.-” As the ceiling collapses on Yeti and the Ants.
“YETI!” Snow Plough calls as everyone flees the tunnels, followed by a massive cloud of dust.
Roll end credits.
End of credits scene- Hayes sits despondent cursing the Sergeant, who has nothing to say. Plough looks back at the collapsed tunnel in despair. And then Ramirez looks out across the mountains.
“Where’s the ship?”
So there we are, that was the first I Love the Corps debut of… RAZOR ANTS! Take Starship Troopers Bugs, add a little rinsing of XenoMorph, and you have the Razor Ant.
A few points of reference
*Both the Sarge and Snow Plough had high Psychological Statuses from the previous game and as each Story follows the day after the next, they aren’t resetting and the squad’s morale is fraying due to a lack of characters with high Chutzpah.
*The Sarge and Snow Plough started Losing It, appropriately, they had the Trauma Kill ‘Em All! This is why Sarge endangered others and Snow Plough started shooting after being cautious before then. Having two characters start Losing It very much changes a dynamic of the Scene.
*I didn’t conveniently bring in the Alkarbai Traders to keep the players a means of aerial travel; I have planned certain things to happen outside of player control, and had always planned for the Traders to arrive in Day 3, which definitely was convenient timing.
Next episode continues with the next day as usual, where the Icebreakers have had to stay in the Moss Mountains over night…
And 17 more days till the next Corps cruiser is coming.
Good luck, Icebreakers. You’re going to need it.